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Campbell’s Storm Chasers

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For many years Campbell’s has been the leader of the soups category, primarily known for its classic soups that remind consumers of warmth and comfort. However, with the rise of the premium/organic soup category, Campbell’s has been challenged with continuing to find its way into shopping carts.  

Proprietary agency research confirmed that the top three triggers for soup consumption are 1) stocking up, 2) the desire for a convenient meal, and 3) cold weather.   

It’s a no brainer that when it’s cold outside, people want something warm to eat: it’s the reason 21% of soup purchasers are triggered to buy.   

But digging deeper under that data, MEC found its real insight: unlike any other hot food alternative for winter weather eating, people find it reassuring to open the same red and white Campbell’s Soup can their mums used to because those memories warm the heart, just as much as the tummy. Viola! 

Additionally, it found that before a major storm, its consumers are preparing by stocking up on essentials such as milk, bread, water and fuel. So Campbell’s needed to position soup as another essential for consumers to stock up.   

The path became crystal clear: the key to selling more Campbell’s Soup is to inextricably link it to cold, wintery weather. 


The problem is, Mother Nature is unpredictable. And that makes planning media a challenge. 

To make unpredictable weather, predictable, the team turned to real-time data, cutting edge media technology, and sophisticated software to ensure Campbell’s media reacted to weather changes IN REAL TIME, AT SCALE and ACROSS CHANNELS. 

As a planning team, that meant adopting a ‘storm chaser’ mentality: find winter storms before they start, then remind people to buy Campbell’s Soup as they prepare to hunker down. 

The agency's plan of attack was to activate on weather triggers across the entire United States to drive relevance and demand for Campbell’s soups during its key sales period: winter weather. But this was no easy task. Weather develops and changes so drastically from coast to coast, Campbell’s needed a way to monitor and react to a snow storm in Seattle, while at the same time capitalising on a blizzard almost 3,000 miles away in New York City. It needed a far-reaching and quick-moving weather triggered network to implement a scale.   

MEC selected The Weather Channel due its IBM Watson technology as a key partner in realising its vision. As the first CPG advertising partner, helped to capitalise on real-time weather patterns and serve ads on desktop and mobile dependent on those data triggers. With Campbell’s as the first CPG advertiser to partner with the technology, Watson served cognitive ads to create one-to-one relationships with consumers in real-time to capitalise on the desire for a convenient meal. The Weather Channel also provided a list of the season’s winter storm names to help dub the names into the creative assets.  

With the strategy identified, partner selections in place and weather-triggers set up, it was time to act on those triggers. 


Digital: In an industry-first, Campbell’s partnered with IBM Watson and The Weather Channel to create cognitive digital display ads that dynamically served cold weather recipe suggestions when temperatures met specific storm parameters. 

Television: Campbell’s television creative ran only when a major storm was forecast to affect a minimum of three top 25 DMAs, and called for greater than a 50% chance of snow or sleet. Plus creative was customised in real-time: ‘Winter Storm Jonas hits tomorrow: do you have enough Campbell’s soup to make it through?’ 

Out of Home: To reach consumers stocking up on fuel before the storm, the team created a national network of gas station video screens to serve Campbell’s messaging when a storm was imminent—as well as when temperatures dropped 10 degrees from the previous day’s high.  

Search: Geo-targeted search was added to the plan so Campbell’s was sure to be discovered whenever anyone was searching for answers to local storm or cold weather inquires. 

Social Media: The team capitalised on real time keyword targeting across Twitter and Facebook so Campbell’s became a part of cold weather and storm conversations as they happened. It even leveraged the latest in emoji targeting on Twitter to intercept those who tweet weather emoji’s like snowflakes and frozen faces! 


The Campbell’s Soup Global Media Director sums it up nicely: “The Storm Chasers initiative is our gold standard for highly creative and effective media planning. Its proof positive of data’s power in not only informing what our message should be to create relevancy for our products, but also when and where it must be delivered for maximum impact.” 

• Watson’s results were genius: 14MM impressions were served in the first month of activity 
• 10M one to on consumer engagements on the platform 
• 7M recipes generated based on data triggers 

Digital: Since the launch of its weather-triggered campaign, mobile and desktop is outperforming engagement benchmarks by 9X. 

OOH: The campaign demonstrated a 12% increase in purchase intent for those who recalled seeing a Campbell’s OOH ad. 

Search: Introducing weather keywords into the search campaign yielded an increase in CTR by more than 7%. 

Consumer response: Dubbing storm names into TV ads surprised and delighted, creating extra attention and conversation by people as measured via social listening. 

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United States
November - December 2016
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